Sunday 21 October 2018

A Stormy Day on Beinn Eighe with Torridon Outdoors

In the mist

Unusually my first venture into the hills after my GR5 walk wasn't in the Cairngorms but far to the west in Torridon. Back in the spring I'd been offered a couple of nights in The Torridon hotel and The Torridon Inn plus a day out with one of their instructors/guides, the deal being that I'd write about the experience. (There'll be a follow-up post on the hotel and the inn). I'd forgotten about this until a reminder came in just as I returned from the Alps. So a week after returning home I was away again for a couple of untypical luxury nights, with a day of storm inbetween.

View from the lip of Coire Mhic Fhearchair

The forecast being for very wet and windy weather that should ease a little in the afternoon the Head of Torridon Activities at Torridon Outdoors, Charlie Burrow, suggested Beinn Eighe as there's a long walk-in so the worst of the storm might have passed by the time we were high up. The walk-in certainly was wild with a gusty wind, heavy rain, and low clouds shrouding the hills.

The summit clears, briefly

On reaching Coire Mhic Fhearchair,a place that never fails to inspire and impress, the rain eased, though the wind was cold, and we stopped for a rest and a snack and the opportunity to admire the wild surroundings, the wave-swept lochan, and the great cliffs of the Triple Buttress, which faded in and out of the clouds.

In Coire Mhic Fhearchair

Threading a way through the rocky corrie we began the climb up the steep slopes to the col separating the high point of the mountain, Ruadh-stac Mor, from the main ridge. Looking back down the corrie we could see sunshine on hills to the north, which gave us hope the summit might clear.

Looking back across Coire Mhic Fhearchair

The ascent finishes up a loose scree and rock gully. We found the left-hand side a bit easier than the loose centre, with solid rock steps in places. The top of the gully disappeared into the mist and on emerging from it we also felt the full force of the wind. As it wasn't far now we went to the summit - and stood there in the mist a short while. It wasn't going to clear.

In the gully

Turning away we went onto the main ridge where we decided to see if there was a direct way down to join the outward path in Coire Dubh Mor. Both of us believed there was, though in my case my memory was faulty as the terrain I remembered from a descent on another wet misty day was nothing like as steep or stony as this turned out to be. A series of rock steps, steep loose scree chutes, and boulders had us traversing back and forth across the slope searching out the safest way. Far below we could see a path snaking across scree slopes. It took a while to reach. Much of the ground was so loose it slid beneath the feet. Care was needed! Lower down the larger rocks and little crags disappeared and there was just scree to slither down.


Whenever we paused and looked up - when moving eyes to the ground were essential - the great mass of Liathach reared up before us. This really is a dramatic landscape, as fierce, wild and magnificent as anything I saw in the Alps.

On the descent

Despite the weather it was a great day out and it was good to have a companion for once. I learnt a bit about Torridon Outdoors too. A huge range of activities is on offer including mountain biking, sea kayaking, canoeing, wildlife watching, and gorge scrambling as well as guided high and low level walks. You don't have to stay in the hotel or inn to take part in them either. There's more about Charlie and Torridon Outdoors in this Q&A post from last year.

1 comment:

  1. Another good read Chris, thanks for sharing. Walking into Coire Mhic Fhearchair for the first time took my breath away - it really is nature in the raw.